Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on January 1st 2013
When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?
Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who has stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.
Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.
Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.
There’s a lot of books I want to read for a few different reasons. There’s the sequels or continuations of series I already love. There’s books whose concepts interest me but don’t completely sell me yet. Then there’s the debuts such as Altered, that capture my interest right way through a combination of a intriguing concept and stand-out cover. I awaited Altered‘s arrival for months, had it pre-ordered and checked the tracking info probably 50 times a day once it was shipped. I was that anxious for it to arrive. I planned to rip right into the packaging as soon as I got my hands on it. I didn’t even care that it was close to 10 p.m. when I started Altered because I had pre-convinced myself that I’d love it.
And then, about 30 pages in, something happened. With only a couple chapters in, my excitement began to wan. I was still interested in delving deeper because the plot had raised a lot of questions that I wanted answered. However, early on I became detached. Detached from the characters and detached from the emotion. Throughout the whole book I felt like there was general lack of emotion. A lack between father and daughter and a huge lack between two individuals who were supposedly in-love or close enough to becoming. Even the premise says, “Sam who’s stolen Anna’s heart” a concept that Rush tried to convey throughout the story, and one I just couldn’t buy.
By the time Altered begins we’re already told that there’s feelings brewing between these two, or at least, on Anna’s end. She’s known Sam for about 5 years and harbors strong feelings for him. Why, is a question I asked myself over and over again. Sure. He’s hot and pretty nice and Anna has seen him pretty much everyday for the last five years. But besides some late night chess matches, it seems like Anna really doesn’t know him or hasn’t gotten close to him, not like she has towards one of the other boys, Trev. Trev, who she considers one of her best friends is someone she talks to all the time, opens up to, not Sam. The connection between Anna and Sam didn’t make sense to me. It felt physical not emotional and so because Rush pushed so hard for it, that was a loss of one stake itself.
The second problem I had was the plot. At its basis Altered is about 4 boys with altered abilities and memories along with a girl, running from an uber-bad corporation. To be honest though, this corporation called “The Branch” really didn’t strike fear into me. Yes, there was a lot of guns and violence involved but I had too many questions. Where did this company come from. What was its agenda a.k.a. why were the boys involved, or Anna for that matter. I really didn’t understand Anna’s lack of questioning when her house was quite literally built on top of a secret laboratory housing 4 boys in glass and brick cages. Sure, at times she mentions wishing the boys were free, but she seemed awfully complacent for someone in her position. If it were me, I’d be a whole lot more curious and less accepting.
This is one of the most critical reviews I’ve yet to write. I believe this one in particular is so critical because I felt so let down. I wanted to love this book SO BADLY but because of the detachment, I couldn’t. I didn’t understand the motivations, decisions or actions of any of the characters. I couldn’t get a grip on any of their personalities whether it be virtues or flaws. They all just fell flat, which for me, made the whole book fall flat. Sure, the story itself is great, but the characters that are supposed to navigate it, were not.